gwen.simon has unlocked R1- Get Rid of Toby!
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Pip (@big_black_bird) was pestering me to post about my editing methods, because they are apparently mysterious and awe-inspiring. Personally, I think Pip just edits like she cooks- throw everything into the pot, boil, and serve. But if it will shut her up, I’ll illustrate the process.
Lesson The First: Be A Bitch
Your novel doesn’t want to be edited. And it is going to cry and squeal and plead for you to put down the red pen and untie it. It will tell you it is fine the way it is, you’re a genius, you don’t need to edit. Your prose is incendiary, your characters are dazzling, your setting is believable and the plot is tight as a- Well, let’s not go there.
Your story will give you every excuse not to edit it. You will be lured with the exotic promise of new stories waiting in the wings. You will be distracted by fantasies of Donald Duck’s money swimming pool. You will need to build barricades to keep back the hoards of fans sure to descend upon you at any moment. You’ll sit by the phone waiting for publishers to call and tell you you’re on Billboard’s Top 40. You’ll want to sit around in your underwear eating choco-pops out of a mixing bowl watching Power Rangers because you wrote a book, dammit!
You know better. Get out your riding crop and the D-Luxe Ball gag and do the job right. Because like every gimp, this book need to be whipped into shape.
Lesson the Second: Dirty Little Pig Boy!
Attack your novel like it belongs to someone else. Trust nothing. Rip it to shreds. Keep going until it cries. Dismantle it down to the components you made it out of- Protagonist, antagonist, vital plot points, sub plots, alien sex toys, steel plate bustier. Every individual part of your novel is a different tool that you will need to use- combine threshers, fist dildos, matchsticks. Separate the wheat from the chaff, and the dirty little pig boys from the posturing frat boys. Give that naughty novel the beating it deserves.
This is not the time to show mercy. Put on your sternest face, and crack your whip frequently. Don’t let up.
Lesson the Third: Never Neglect The Knots
Whether it’s your intricate plot or a complex shibari pose, pay close attention to what ties things together. Don’t forget a character in the middle, or create one from ether with nothing to support them. Don’t have the killer bee hive tumble from the heavens into the hero’s hands. If you’re going to have the whole ending based on an ancient prophesy, mention it before book seven. I would even suggest it belongs in the first book.
This is the part where you have to be prepared to cut things loose when they don’t work out. Be careful when cutting the gimp loose- he’s more fragile than your book.
Lesson the Fourth: Spit Shine the Latex
Now that you have the big things worked out, it’s time to clean up the little things. Grammar, spelling, dialog, punctuation, pacing, tone, theme, imagery, voice, and anything else that you can think of, they need you to go back after yourself and check their posture. Make sure that tray on their head doesn’t wobble while they go down the stairs. This bit generally has more ‘Please sir, may I have another?’ than the others. Don’t worry. Just keep your back straight and your frown imperious. As tedious as it seems, it will be worth it when you have the little bastard serving you tea in a frilly maid outfit. I mean published.
Lesson the Fifth: Gimps Juggle – You Don’t.
Your novel should be able to balance multiple plots, an entourage of characters, a handful of spiked dildos, and a poodle. You should be focusing on the whip. (And not catching your heels on the rug.) Do one thing at a time, and do it very well. When you are done, move on. You are the boss bitch, and things happen when and where and how you say. No arguments. No distractions. Keep your focus on what needs to be happening right now.
If you want to share a thought, feel free to leave a comment. If you’re looking for help, shine the Editrix signal. If you want someone to whip you into shape, I know some people.
Unwashed hoards of the Internet, I have returned from the ink mines with a message!
Z-Day Part II is about halfway through the first draft (Hint: Moar zombies) and the time has come both to cast my eyes back to the beginning of this intrepid enterprise. Thusly, I have come to a glorious revelation, brought to me by the red eyed gods of late night editing.
When you get to the end, the beginning is confusing and shitty. From the beginning, the ending is confusing and shitty.
I blame this on two things. First, the middle is mushy and doughy, like a third grader with a candy bar sticking out of his flapping mouth hole. Second, the ending was written almost a year after the beginning. The message had gotten lost by the way side. Parts are good. Parts are bad. Parts are repetitive. None of the parts connect very well with the other parts. There are things worth saving, and things that must be cannibalized to make better things.
There are issues. Toby, for instance: he’s not a character, he’s furniture. Like the raven from OotS, he is often forgotten for long periods of time, only appearing when it’s convenient. ‘Oh, right, there’s also a baby.’ Removing him means a significant rewrite. But making him important enough to keep would be an epic level pain in the ass.
And Pinkie! The Director’s cut makes her so much cooler than she gets to be in the ‘official release’! She’s bitchin’ fun to write, and her perspective adds a whole dimension completely unexplored. But none of her material can be conveniently added. It’s just me and Pip shootin’ the shit.
Jon and Mouse’s little heart to heart has been rewritten three times, and still doesn’t say what I want it to. And when you hook it to the intro of Part II, there is no flow, even though it’s only a few minute gap. It’s a total disconnect.
Enough bitching. Get your gimp masks ready, baby, and make way for the Editrix.
In the interest of my readers (All one of you) the following may contain triggers for various fucked up shit. If you have experienced some fucked up shit, you might want to skip this drunken word slurry in favor of something more pleasant. (YouTube has some great cat videos.)
Today, Gwen and friends had to go to sexual assault training. This resulted in thirty males age 20-30 snickering through a video about a girl who was assaulted by a friend, and how it destroyed her life. Now, your auntie Gwen is a hard ass, but her girl Pip isn’t. Pip spent the rest of the day trying desperately not to break down crying at work while assholes made jokes and an array of insensitive remarks (Personal favorite was our boss reading that 1-in-4 females will be sexually assaulted, and quipping that since there were four females present, we were screwed. Jerks.).
This (And copious amounts of rum) have made me consider the issue of rape in fiction. Because I (And Pip) write some seriously fucked up shit. Pip’s is for therapy, but why do I do it? Why read comic books, with their long-standing tradition of ‘Girl-In-Fridge’? George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice, with more rape per square foot than murder? Anything Stephen King has written in the last five years or so?
Why is there so much sexual assault in our make-believe?
I can’t speak for everyone. I know there are people (male and female) for whom rape is a fetish. But that’s a fantasy of rape, no more real than Saturday morning cartoons. It’s for pretend. And while those people make Auntie Gwen very uncomfortable, they don’t explain the issue. They might be the readers, but they can’t all be the writers, because I don’t fantasize about getting raped (Living with Pip, I have to be careful saying that word).
So why, Gwen asked the empty stage. Why write about something that makes me so uncomfortable? Why probe at your own wounds? Why display them for others to see? Why would you do something that hurts that much?
And there (And at the bottom of the glass) is the answer I was seeking. The reason that we look into the scaberous, pustulent face of our own nightmares is because it hurts. Because it’s fucked up, because it makes us cringe and turn away. Not to stare at the freaks, but because the only way to master our fears is to strip them bare and chase them through the streets, howling obscenities. Things hiding in the dark are terrifying- a gargoyle dragged into the light begins to wither and die, squealing and thrashing.
Don’t look away, Gentle Reader. Don’t pretend this isn’t happening. Don’t pretend that you don’t know someone who has been sexually assaulted- you do. Don’t pretend that you don’t know someone who has committed sexual assault- you do.
One in four women and one in six men with report being sexually assaulted this year.
One in twenty males will commit sexual assault this year.
Don’t look away.
Right, so for anyone not aware I share space with @big_black_bird and @BlueHatKid, I do. They are also creative types (Not productive, just creative) and none of us have done anything all summer.
Gwen is perturbed. Gwen is irate. Gwen can’t think straight right now, and may kill the next person who asks if she minds if they turn on the TV.
Even to watch Dexter reruns.
Did you ever see a hamster on a wheel, running and running and getting no-fucking-where?
Ever see one trip?
Yeah, I know I shouldn’t laugh, but I can’t stop gobbling up all that juicy schadenfreude. Plus, it makes me feel better about the way I get off track writing. I start out on the stupid wheel, and then something shiny distracts me, or crippling seasonal depression makes me face plant, and one afternoon I find myself sitting in my rack with an hour to myself, looking at notes scribbled on napkins and scraps of paper. And I realize I’m accomplished precisely, exactly, diddly. Squat, zilch, nein, not one motherfucking word in six months.
Firstly, I blame work. When we’re out (That’s 6mo at a time) I work (Not exaggerating) from 07 to 02, with one day a week when I only work from 07 to 17. Days blur together after a week or so.
Fuck, here I am bitching when I could be futilely attempting to make progress on Z-Day.
So, having already taken over steerage for Pip’s Zompocalypse serial, I have also been
bribed threatened made sad puppy eyes at agreed to help our pal @bluehatkid write the script for his steampunk-survival-horror-rpg-fps-thingie. Clearly, I will be writing all of the women. He will be writing the psuedo science. Pip will be getting distracted from what she’s supposed to be doing and start drawing hydraulic connections between subway cars on the moon.